Psychiatry / therapy

Stay or Leave?


Office Balcony Sunset

I recently made a difficult decision regarding my job, which triggered feelings of uncertainty, fear, and self-doubt.  In the process of contemplating my decision, I recalled one of my patients, a college student who struggled with depression.  Despite going to a prestigious university, his overwhelming fear of not getting accepted into law school further exacerbated his depressive symptoms.  I responded with seemingly consoling statements such as “you’re still young…you’ll get there…you have a lot going for you…I went through the same situation and it worked out okay.” However, my attempts to reassure really weren’t reassuring at all (it’s well known in psychiatry that reassurance generally doesn’t reassure mostly because the statements fail to validate the patient’s current experience).  Reflecting back, I realized that in the moment I didn’t want to relive my own pain, uncertainty, and fears that I experienced in my process of applying to medical school.  I recalled the discouragement I felt with each rejection letter I received.  And I was still feeling discouraged at my current job.  Since I gained insight from connecting his experience with my own, I looked forward to validating his feelings at his next appointment.  Unfortunately, he cancelled his appointment and never returned.

I realize that contemplating decisions regarding a career path, relationships, love, and pretty much anything pertaining to life in general, makes us vulnerable and uncomfortable.  The idea of change can trigger fear and act as a barrier towards future ventures.  After a year long process, I finally decided to resign.  My anxiety peaked even more because I felt uncertain of the next step to take.  Where do I go from here?  Will I feel happier?  Will I regret my decision?
Seeking motivation to push forward and take risks, I read quotes by famous writers, all with similar themes to never give up, choose the “road less traveled,” try new things, and learn from your mistakes.
The dangers of life are infinite, and among them are safety.  ~ Goethe
Yet, it took being on a plane last night watching The Amazing Spiderman 2 hearing Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone) give her valedictorian speech to make me realize how mainstream and pervasive this dilemma is:
“…I say it today of all days to remind us that time is luck. So don’t waste it living someone else’s life, make yours count for something. Fight for what matters to you, no matter what. Because even if you fall short, what better way is there to live?”
As mentioned above, my decision involved resigning from my highly-desired, well-paid job in order to take control of my life, practice, and career.   Since my last day, I have mixed emotions of feeling liberated, hopeful, excited, yet completely scared at the same time.
I made the right decision.
“…you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”  
                ~Jim Carrey
Putting in work at my new office in West Hollywood
Photos courtesy of Marlon Santos (Diamond Reel Media)

24 thoughts on “Stay or Leave?

  1. Wow! Such an inspirational & motivational blog you wrote! You have worked so hard to earn your very own private practice & I couldn’t be any happier for you. I will always & forever have faith in you & I know that the path you chose will be successful. You have always told me, “it’s not the money that counts, it’s your happiness”& that is one piece of advice that I question myself each day & I’m still trying to figure things out. Hahaha but because of you, you motivate me to explore my other strengths & figure out what makes me happy & what I’m worth. Happiness is all that matters in life. Go make a difference in this world Vania!! As Melanie would say, YOU’RE ONE TOUGH COOKIE!

    • awww thx jen! i really appreciate your comment. i know for sure you’ll inspire others too (I’m sure u already do, and will grow to be a major influence in the industry). happiness and doing what u love is the way to go 🙂

  2. I am so happy for you and so proud to be your sister! You are a very talented writer and blogger, but I have to say this is your best yet! I am impacted on so many levels from the beginning to the end: I can relate to the common mistake of wanting to “fix” others problems without enough validation of their current experience; I am inspired by your courageous decision to leave a safe and predictable situation to embark on a happy and fulfilling journey; I too was motivated by the mainstream quotes of Jim Carey and from Spider Man which made me wonder how I can apply their powerful messages to my life. The fact that I’m still trying to define that makes me even more proud that you have reached the point in your life and career where you feel in control and wake up happy and ready for whatever comes your way! You deserve all the wonderful mixture feelings this chapter of your life contains! All your hard work, sacrifice, courage, and endurance paid off in ways money will never fulfill. A moment like this makes me reflect on our beloved Lolo and Lola…I know they are sooo happy and proud of you for dedicating yourself to accomplishing the goals you set out to do from the very beginning! Theirs and all of our prayers have been answered. Congratulations Doctor Vania!! I love you!

    • Thank you sister! I believe in you and know that after you get through all the steps in your current process you’ll reach a point where u wake up accomplished, fulfilled, and very importantly, in control of doing what u love. Just a few more steps to go! I know lola and lolo are looking down and feeling proud of all of us. Love you!

  3. I appreciated reading the insights in this blog post and look forward to more in the future. Plus, I have a policy of following any blog that (1) quotes Goethe or (2) paraphrases a Clash song in the title. 🙂 Since this post does both, you really left me with no choice but to follow your blog. And, thanks for following mine.

    • Thanks Tom! I immediately followed your blog because your photos capture the beauty of Michigan (I have several friends from MI but I’ve honestly never been…and honestly the 1st word to pop up in my head re: my perception of MI, would not be “beauty,” however your photos convey this!). But your blog also echoes my mission of writing – a creative outlet that our serious professions don’t provide. Thanks for following as well.

      • Once you drive about 200 miles from Detroit, there are many beautiful spots in Michigan. Much of the Upper Peninsula is wilderness, or close to it. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some of the fall colors as they arrive here.
        I agree that serious professions sometime stifle our creative side, perhaps one of the discontents of civilization, as Freud might say. Blogging is a welcome outlet, and I look forward to reading more of yours.

  4. Welcome back to blogging! (And thanks for the follow!)
    No worry: You will do fine!
    Have a lovely week-end!

  5. Reblogged this on IAmShe and commented:
    Life is all about taking chances, expanding your horizons, and doing exactly whatever it is that makes you happy. In life, you are faced with so many different challenges, setbacks, disappointments, changes, and tough decisions. Even as a psychiatrist, you’ll still have problems that you have to deal with as well as anyone else. Doing what’s best for you doesn’t always come as clear as you may desire, but taking that risk and continuing to prosper even if it doesn’t result in what you expected is what counts. Stay motivated and no matter what, keep going! I love her!!!!

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